Ni Yunning

      NI YUNNING 倪运宁

      PhD Student (Admitted in 2023 – 2024)
      Field Area: Economic History


      NI Yunning is a PhD student in the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (HKIHSS) at The University of Hong Kong. Before entering the PhD program, he completed his bachelor’s (in Economics) and master’s (in Public Finance) degrees at Henan University.

      His master's thesis, titled "The Reform of Transporting Tribute-Grain by Seaway and the Coast Defence in Late Qing China - an Argument Treating the Rechannelling of the Yellow River in 1855 as an Exogenous Shock," sheds light on the fact that the Yellow River's rechannelling in 1855 forced the Qing Court to transition to a sea-shipping system for tribute-grain, inadvertently exposing China's taxation throat to foreign navies from the open sea. As a result, maritime defence became a crucial aspect of Qing's national defence layout. This evolutionary process showcases how institutional change can sometimes be a forced choice for a country in the face of public disasters and crises, but neither be mandatory nor induced, where there is no clear trade-off expectation for the decision-maker. Furthermore, the decision can have a time-delay effect, meaning that during the decision-making process, the reforming object and interference factors can change still.

      Tentatively, under the primary supervision of Prof. CHEN Zhiwu and co-supervision of Dr. MA Chicheng, NI will continue his research on the relationship between the tribute transportation and the canal maintenance in the Qing Dynasty for his PhD project.


      Room 206, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong
      Tel: (852) 3917-1918

      Sharing & Experiences

      NI Yunning is an aspiring cross-disciplinary learner who has a keen interest in Chinese and Western literature, particularly on philosophy, history, and economics. He actively attends relevant forums and has had the privilege of participating in the 5th Quantitative History Workshop and the 2019 Summer School on the Frontiers of Chinese and Foreign Economic Thought at Peking University. He was also awarded funding by HNU to be a visiting student at Oxford University and York University in England, and qualified as an exchange student in Xamk, Finland. Furthermore, he had the opportunity to serve as the exit assessor for poor counties in Tibetan areas of Sichuan Province in 2019 as part of the Poverty Alleviation Campaign of Chinese government. To gain a deeper understanding of the origin logic of ancient Chinese civilization from a public economics perspective, he conducted field research following his supervisor along the Yellow River and agriculture sites of ancient Chinese civilization, including the Liangzhu ancient city site, Yangshao site, and Lushanmao site, during his undergraduate and master studies. Additionally, he assisted Professor Yang Songtao of the Law School at HNU in translating the loyal, church, and manor archives of 16th-18th century England.

      Research Interests

      He is currently interested in the institutional change in ancient Qing China, especially in the fields of canal maintenance and tribute-grain’s transportation.

      Thesis Project

      [Tentative] The Decline of the River-Tribute Institution in Qing Dynasty and Inert Institutional Change.


      NI is weaving an article draft based on his master’s thesis.

      Thesis Supervisors

      Primary supervisor: Professor Zhiwu Chen

      Co-supervisor: Professor Chicheng Ma